The turning point in my approach towards photography came during my own wedding planning. When I was knee deep in the drama and depths of planning a wedding on my own, I began realizing how unhelpful all the wedding blogs I used to support were becoming. The only support I found was in the presence of my wonderful friends and community who encouraged me to work on my heart and focus on my love for R. That was when I began to turn away from the wedding industry machine – the one driven by detail-heavy blogs, materialistic hawkers of designer heels, fair and dewy complexions, perfect hair and makeup, and all things “swoon-worthy”. This isn’t to say that any of those things are bad in and of themselves, and weddings aren’t bad, I still think they are one of the most beautiful events on earth. However, all too often they place an unrealistic pressure on an entire generation of very young and impressionable people who receive a distorted view of what a wedding is really all about. It is that part of the wedding industry I do not like.
It was then that I made the decision that if I were ever to return to wedding photography – highly unlikely given my observance of Shabbat on Saturdays – I wouldn’t do it for the details. I know for which reasons I would do wedding photography – I’d do it for the love, the emotions, the moments. I’d always been about the moments, those were the holy grail of images I wanted to capture. I’m not fully developed there.
C & S approached me for my newer style – the story telling style. They eschewed traditional expectations and did not have the big wedding nor did they even have a wedding photographer. However, on their honeymoon trip to San Francisco, they hired me to do a Love Story session for them. They emphasized that they did not want the elaborate setups and contrite poses. Their love story reflects that – they were students who met under humble circumstances who saw compatibility in each other. It had to be honest. Fun. This was actually one of my favorite session. EVER. The weather may not have been perfect, we may or may not have been fully awake as it started it at sunrise. And it was also a big challenge to me as I conducted the entire shoot in a language that is not my mother tongue. Sometimes I had to communicate through wild gesticulations and first grade vocabulary. Ultimately, it was the faithful trust they placed in me that made this shoot the success.
They have since returned to their motherland to start a new married life together. I can’t be happier for them. They left such a deep impression on me for the kind of stories I want to paint in the future.
Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only